Did G.W. make the right decision? (stem cell research)


I think the decision was just about the best one that could have been made. He seemed to have given this a great deal of thought, and the decision he made was a good middle choice.

I’m not disappointed at all. This research would have continued no matter what, so this was completely acceptable to me. It is an attempt to both respect the sanctity of life and allow potential life saving research to continue with appropriate levels of funding.

Your thoughts?

Not that this would come as a surprise to anyone, even folks who hadn’t seen my little thread to George in the Pit, but I think the decision is terrible.

I’m sure there are many who, like yourself, admire his attempt to compromise, but I am of the opinion that there was no compromise needed. I think that the position of people who have a problem with stem-cell research is, sorry to be so brutal and blunt: stupid. Amazingly stupid. These cells are destined for the garbage.

I think it’s political crap, and as a result, (as with all things George touches) America slips a few more rungs on the ladder of respect and credibility when it comes to living in the modern world.


I was greatly interested… while his speech was interspersed with plenty of fluff, I found his conclusion to be a step in the right direction (hey, Stoid, would you have preferred he banned all forms of stem cell research? That’s what a lot of his most fervent supporters wanted him to do). While he did limit the funding, it indicates that he’s not inflexible in the issues.

The man’s walking a tightrope between the devil and the deep-blue. Cut him some slack. I strongly doubt anyone here could do his job and retain any kind of political effectiveness (unless maybe we’re got national level politicians amongst the Teeming Millions?). Given the circumstances, it’s a workable compromise (a good compromise leaves everyone dissatisfied). George W.'s never going to go down as a statesman-like figure, but he’s doing pretty good at keeping things running until a true visionary comes along.

It is, in all attempt to avoid pitworthy content, the single most cowardly solution possible.

If embryos, even embryos almost assuredly destined for disposal, have similar rights to human infants (that is, if they’re “alive”), then it is reprehensible to fund research on continuing lines. It’s tantamount to not only using Nazi medical research, but paying Mengele for his samples. I disagree with this viewpoint, but I find it morally consistent.

If, as I believe, embryos, especially embryos that are not implanted and never will be implanted inside a woman’s uterus, do not have similar rights to born infants, and they do promise signifigant medical results, I feel the government should allow full funding.

Compromise between these two viewpoints may be impossible.

Restricting the funding to pre-existing lines accomplishes nothing but assure the financial future of whoever owns these lines.

CNN published a sadly innaccurate compormise that I felt would have worked much better. The funding would have been restricted to fertility clinic surplus (no govt. tacit support of abortion, in other words), and subject to approval by both parents for use in research.

BTW, does this funding only apply to lines that are active now, or could I start a new line with private funding, and then apply for federal funds for further research?

Oh, and Bush should really come back to the White House to give a speech unless it’s impossible to do so. Broadcasting from your vacation home is tacky. I don’t want a telecommuting president.

Dubya did a great job - he realized the difference between potential life and human life. He even said the embryos are “potential human life” - which was the highlight of the speech for me. Living humans are much more important than a glob of cells.

I know it makes religious people feel good about themselves to say “all human life is sacred, and 4 cells in a petri dish is human life and therefore it is sacred.” If they want to feel good about themselves, they should go buy a new car, have another child, or give money to charity… whatever. Don’t hold back medical research that can help improve the lives (which is something that life has) of living people.

Things to notice:

  1. we don’t celebrate the day we were conceived, we celebrate the day we were born.

  2. the anti-stem cell research people (all of whom are religious - religion has no place in law making) are not complaining about the embryos being thrown out - only being researched upon.

  3. Dubya is not as stupid as he looks.

I think that this was absolutely the weakest decision that he could have made. When you try to please all of the people you please none of the people.

Now here is where you get the stem cell line basics so that I only have to explain once.

There are three main types of stem cells:
totipotent These are the cell lines in debate. There are fetal stem cells. They can develop into any type of tissue. They have total potential.
pluripotent which the president described as placental and umbilical cord, these are the stem cells that can develop into all tissue except placental and placental connective tissues.
multipotent These are adult stem cells, which while promising, are limited. These are the cells that are specialized. In other word, they form the regularly replaced cells in you body; bone, blood,etc.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way.

First of all, of these 60 (and I have no idea where he got that number. I’d believed it to be much lower) cell lines how many of them are proprietary? I know the cell line I work on is so valuable that they kept cells lines stored in four different parts of the country so if there is a nuclear attack, the cell line would go on (too bad the same couldn’t be said of us employees). I don’t believe that private industry is going to be so benevolent that they are going to “share” the lines that took them millions of dollars to produce.

Second -we are limiting the genetic diversity of our lines. Which is a bit like saying we want all of our most promising research done on 60 (and like I said, I don’t believe that number) people.

Third -Adult stem cells, although promising may have a very limited use. There has never been an adult stem cell discovered for cardiac tissue, and those that have been discovered aren’t all that easy to get. It ain’t so easy to get adult liver, or nerve, or come to think of it, brain tissue.

Forth -He’s taken away the rights of the people to donate these embryos to a cause they may believe in.

I’m a bit disgusted that he let the religious right, and his desire to court the Catholic vote to sway his decision on this potentially life saving research.

Oh by the way, there is still federal funding for stem cell research on aborted feutses.
But don’t tell George!

Well, I am in Stoid’s camp in that I think people who oppose research with embryonic cells (at least from fertility clinics) are, well, uneducated.

That said, I think Stoid tends to forget that she lives in a Democracy, and therefore people who have opinions different from hers get to have their say too. Bush could easily have banned Federal funding for stem cell research altogether. If he was as much of a slave to the right wing that Stoid thinks he is, that’s what he would have done.

On the other hand, there would have been political hell to pay if he had allowed funding of all types of research. And don’t forget that this wasn’t a partisan decision - you could find opponents and defenders of stem cell research on both sides of the political aisle.

I was hoping that he would accept the Frist compromise, which would have allowed the harvesting of stem cells for Federal research from fertility clinics. But anyone who thinks that allowing unlimited use of all embryos was even an option doesn’t understand politics. I thought the Frist compromise was about as far as Bush could have gone while maintaining his credibility (and the votes of both the conservative right and Centrist Catholics), and I was hoping he would. But he could easily have gone the other way, so I think he went in essentially the right direction.

Anyway, he’s left the door open, and I suspect that means that we’ll see all the stem cell research we need. Because this issue will fade from the public eye, hysteria will subside, and people will realize that we aren’t growing monsters in test tubes. At that point, the restrictions he placed tonight on federal funding will be quietly dropped.

Problem is that the compromise has no logical basis other then political expedience. The idea of using already created ones but not creating new ones for the purpose at least has a logic to it.

I personally think he made the right choice. FINALLY, he does something moderate.

Let me explain my stupidity and see if you guys can educate me in a way that will alleviate my fears.

I’ll skip a bunch of the stuff that bothers me about embryonic stem cell research and get right to my central concern.
As I understand it (and feel free to correct me if I have this wrong:)), when a couple is having trouble conceiving a child, they go to a clinic and have their eggs and sperm “extracted” (so to speak), these are then fertilized in vitro. Only one succesful fertilized egg is required, so they take that one, and implant it into the mother. If it fails to take, then they grab the next one until they achieve a pregnancy. In the usual order of this process, there are “left over” fertilized eggs.

I am not sure how many extra fertilized eggs there are on average, so if someone knows, I would love to hear a number. (especially since it is relevant to my trouble with this process)

The lady then continues with her pregnancy, carries the child to term and the couple forgets all about their other fertilized eggs.

These are the embryos that we are talking about.

My problem is two fold…
Right now, we currently have X amount of embryos created as a side effect of fertility clinics. Once more money is involved, what prevents the clinics and the parents from generating an even greater surplus of embryos in order to sell them off?


What prevents companies from soliciting eggs and sperm from people who do not wish to be parents, but are creating the embryos specifically in order to create stem cells.
This is my main issue with embryonic cell research, federally funded or privately funded.

I agree with Sam Stone; I think that eventually federal funding will be allowed on all stem cell research, but that probably won’t happen until after Bush has been gone for awhile. Politically, this was his best move. It will probably boost him a few points in the polls, or at least stop him from losing support among moderates. However, from a moral standpoint, it just doesn’t make sense. Does Bush believe that embryonic stem cell research is equivalent to murder? Apparently not. Does be believe that the government should support all possible medical research in the field, regardless of the objections from those who do think that it’s murder? Apparently he doesn’t believe that either.

Objection, OP assumes facts not in evidence. What makes you think that GW made this decision?

Here is my problem…

Using this same logic, should we kill death row inmates in a manner that would allow us to harvest their organs and give them to innocent people in need?
If not…what’s the difference between an embryo heading for the garbage and a cadaver?

Well, actually, I don’t see why not…Personally, I am opposed to the death penalty, but if we are going to have it, then yes, I think harvesting the organs is not unreasonable. It seems to me a bizarre line to draw: We are going to take your life, but we won’t violate the sanctity of your body parts once your dead?!?

Well, apart from the fact that I have a problem with the death penalty, my answer is “Absodamnlutely!”.
Of course, athis also assumes we have the permission of the prisoner, who is a person. Blastocysts aren’t people. And that answers your question about embryos and cadavers…particularly the kinds of embryos we are talking about here. They aren’t people. They are clusters of living human cells with unique DNA. Period.

No, the prisoner WAS a person. Now he’s a hunk of cooling meat. Why is it important or even relevant to say that we need a murderer’s pre-execution “permission” to take a body he’s not using anymore and put it to good use?

In the first place, everyone seems to accept that he has the power to enforce the decision, thus he bears the responsiblity for it. It’s “his” decision. I doubt that he truly delved into the extending and highly convoluted details of the issue, that’s why he has aides. The decision that was made, however, was made under the auspices of the office of President of the United States. If we (collectively) are going to blame or praise Reagan for the decision made during his administration, Bush Sr. for the one during his and Clinton for those made during his terms, it’s only fair that Bush Jr. work under the same expectations. Aides may do the grunt work, but one would hope that the final say comes from the man who has to put

Secondly, it was a political decision, not a scientific one. There’s no rational scientific reason not to pursue stem cell research, nor can I imagine that there is a financial one either. The initial outlay would be a pittance compared to the benefits the research stands to generate. However, the political fallout of full support for the research would have included the alienation of a large block of Bush’s staunchest supporters. Although many of his immediate advisors were in favor of supporting the stem cell research, it’s imposible for him (them) to consider what would have happened if a full reversal of his previously avowed policy had been announced. I think stem cell research is going to continue, with or without federal funding and by allowing the government to support the existing cell lines, he’s struck a balance that’s hard to criticize from a political point of view. I would much rather have seen full support given to the research, but I’m pragmatic enough to realize that full funding was never in the cards. The political realities would have made it impossible to throw full support for new lines of stem cells.

As political decisions go, it was the best one could hope for.

There’s a big difference between those two things, guys. The murderer was a human being with friends, family, etc. And his relatives and by extension all of us feel very uncomfortable with the casual disposal and use of our bodies. This is one of your prime, fundamental rights - the right to your own body, and that means how you use it, and how it is treated even in death. Let me ask you women - if there was an instant cultural tradition that said dead female bodies could be raped at will, how would you feel about it? About knowing that that was going to happen to YOUR body after you die?

A blastocyst is totally different. It has no former identity as a human. It has no constituency with emotional attachments. It is not, and never has been equipped with even the most rudimentary of brains or even senses. It’s just a lump of chemicals start a process that one day, if the conditions are just perfect, may become a human. It should have no rights, and shouldn’t be afforded any special consideration unless it is being prepared to be turned into a human, in which case it should be treated as such to give it the full potential to develop normally.

Why do we have to turn these decisions into absolutes? It is neither a human or not a human. It’s a proto-human, which a different thing entirely and extrapolating the rights of living, sentient beings to a chunk of undifferentiated cells is just silly.